Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One creepy trip to the supermarket, and why I'd be a lousy coupon blogger

It's 9:30 p.m., and I am running around a supermarket like a headless chicken. We're en route to a beach condo for a weekend getaway, it's way past the kids' bedtime, and I'm rushing to pick up some groceries. I pay the cashier and zoom out to the curb, where our minivan is parked.

"Ma'am, I need to speak with you."

A man has suddenly appeared beside me, just as I'm about to open the trunk. A hulk of a guy wearing an earpiece.

"Yes?" I say.

He whips out a metal badge from beneath his shirt and says he's with store security. It's dark, so I can barely see the badge. Meanwhile, he's saying stuff into the headset like "I'm talking with her now."

I am creeped out. Did I accidentally take something without paying for it? I didn't even buy that much. I scan the cart. No, I don't think so.

"I need to speak with you inside the store," he says.

My mind is reeling. But wait! On the checkout line, I accidentally gave the cashier a coupon for a carton of ice-cream I didn't end up buying. Really, accidentally! (I mean it, really!) Maybe there is a coupon task force cracking down on coupon scammers! You never know in this economy. Although if coupon scamming were a crime, moms all over America would be doing time in the slammer.

"I am not sure why you need to speak with me," I say.

"I need to talk with you about an incident that occurred in the store, can you come inside with me," he says, looking Very Serious.

Incident? Wha?! Now I am freaked and I rapidly start tossing groceries into the trunk. Because I am wondering whether he is a scammer himself or a crook who is about to grab my purse or whether a car is going to pull up and I'm going to get abducted. I've seen one too many bad late-night TV movies.

Meanwhile, the kids are sitting in the car glued to Toy Story 2 and Dave is pecking away on his iPhone, oblivious to the drama taking place outside. He may never see me again, but hey, at least he is catching up on email.

"You need to leave me alone, because I have no idea what you want from me," I blurt, toss in the last of the groceries, and literally run around to the front of the car, where Dave can see me.

Miraculously, Dave looks up from his iPhone and opens the door.

"What's going on?" he says.

"I have no idea!" I tell him. "This guy says he is from security and wants to speak with me."

"Is this your wife?" Mr. Creepy asks.

"Yes," says Dave, gallantly, and starts to step out of the car.

"I'm talking to your wife, get back in the car," Mr. Creepy says. And then, to me, "I need to speak with you inside, ma'am," in a tone usually reserved for judges in TV movies who are about to pass down death sentences.

Now I am ticked off. "I'm going inside," I tell Dave. And then I book it into the store, with Mr. Creepy trotting behind me, straight to customer service.

"Do you know this man?" I ask the woman in the booth.

She looks at him. "Yes," she says.

I turn to Mr. Creepy, who proceeds to tell me that he noticed a woman following me around the dairy aisle. And I am all, "I didn't notice anyone. Are you saying she might have been trying to pickpocket me?" and he sort of grunts and I check my purse and everything is in there.

"OK, we'll take care of it," he says. Pause. "I really scared you there, didn't I?"

No s**t, Sherlock. "Yeah, you scared the heck out of me," I agree. I tell him it's time for me to go, get out of there, and spend the rest of the evening and part of the next day deconstructing what happened with Dave. Monday, I call the grocery store and tell the regional security supervisor about Mr. Creepy. "I know this guy was doing his job, to some extent," I say, "but I assume you are not in the business of terrifying your customers."

"If that was my wife, I'd tell her never to go back to the store," he admits.

They're supposedly going to talk with Mr. Creepy about his customer relation skills.

Me, I might just be a little paranoid about using coupons for a while.

UPDATE! I got a call back from the supervisor. Security had noticed a woman in a black top shoplifting cheese in the dairy aisle. Mr. Creepy saw me at the register, in my black top, and decided it was me. !!! When I freaked out at the car, he thought I was being evasive—until I marched up to customer service and asked who the guy was. He then made up the story about someone following me because he thought he would get in trouble. "He made about 10 different mistakes," the supervisor said. "There's no excuse for what he did." They're going to "discipline him" (flog him with coupons? Suspension?). I get a $100 gift card. Which I will definitely not be spending at that store.



  1. So glad you weren't abducted I would have missed reading your posts LOL :) in all seriousness I am happy you're ok :)

  2. OMG CRAZY. I'm so glad you called to speak with the manager. :(

  3. Wow,that was a little scary. I think security could have handled that a whole lot better,certainly didn't have to intimidate you that way,though some people get a thrill at being able to do that to others. Couldn't he have stopped you before you left the store(like shortly after it happened) & why did you have to go back into the store? Not sure I'd want to shop there again.

  4. That's scary! He definitely shouldn't have gone about discussing that with you the way he did. I used to work at a major retailer, and when our Asset Protection Specialist went to talk to people, the first thing he would explain would be why he's stopping someone, instead of being vague and saying "I need you to come inside"

    I'm glad you called the manager, hopefully they will follow through and give him some extra customer relations training.

  5. That's odd. I also worked in retail for a number of years and given you were the possible 'victim' not the perpetrator he should have just asked you if anything was missing from your purse. Mr Creepy needs some Customer Service training.

  6. Creepy. Glad you went inside. Smart and safe. However, on that note, and don't take this the wrong way... but I haven't laughed as hard in a long time as I did reading this today! Great post. Thx :)

  7. Yikes! Sound like this guy was on a Mall cop power trip. Wonder why he didn't go after the supposed pick-pocket?

  8. So scary and creepy. Why didn't the guy tell you what the situation was all about?

  9. What a jerk! Glad you at least put him on the higher-ups' radars.

  10. He should have confronted you before you left the store. If it were me, I would have demanded that he tell me the problem or he could bloody well piss off.

    Good for you for opening your mouth once you got in the store and for calling the manager.

  11. That was totally creepy! I would have been SO freaked out. :(

  12. Geez, just reading your post freaked me out. I can only imagine how much more freaked out YOU were. Thank goodness you weren't totally alone; that would have made it worse (who will hear you scream?).

    You might have a career in suspense writing, Ellen. ;)

  13. Hey, $100 gc, though! You have one thing down that we couponers know: Always speak up if something is not right!
    I am impressed that a mom with your busy career has time to use a single coupon, to be honest. And coupon mistakes do happen, even to the pros.

  14. As I was reading this I just kept thinking, what would I have done if I was alone with the kids? I don't think I would have gone back in the store if I'd been alone. I wonder if he was even talking to anyone on that ear piece! Yay for getting a gift card out of the mess, but I don't blame you for not going back!

  15. I am impressed! It would have never dawned on me to go straight to customer service. Smart girl!

  16. I'm SPEECHLESS! This is absolutely CRAZY! I'm glad you're safe, but that blows my mind.

  17. Eek! What a weird guy. I'm glad he turned out to be really security, but his approach was definitely less than stellar.

  18. Oh wow I don't know how I would have reacted in your situation! And seriously, stealing cheese?? He couldn't have just ASKED you about the cheese, instead of going all NCIS on you? He should be disciplined and have to go to sensitivity training! Good for you for calling the store.

  19. So glad Dave was with you, I always end up grocery shopping alone with the kids, scary!

  20. Not that you want to send other people to creepy-security-guard store, but you could donate the gift card to the local food bank... but perhaps there is another store nearby?
    If they really thought you were a cheese thief he should have talked to you before you left the store. At the Gap (where I worked for 600 years..) once it left the store... it was gone.

    Ha! A dairy thief... never pegged you for that :)

  21. oh my gosh Ellen! I am so sorry. I am trying not to laugh. I cannot believe this. so glad you got a $100 gift card. woo hoo. don't go back though. I needed this laugh (trying not to though)!

  22. just read everyone's comments and wanted to explain - I was laughing that he thought you stole a cheese wheel from the dairy isle! you painted such a picture. On the serious side - you handled it very well and kept yourself and your family safe.
    kct (again)

  23. I would have freaked out too. I think you handled it well...I probably would have jumped in the car and drove away crying!

  24. Good gravy--EWWWWW. That guy does not need to be disciplined -- he needs to be fired. He is not a good "security" person. I woulda been calling 911 the second He approached me in the parking lot. Of course, I wouldn't have had a big strong Dave with me, I woulda been alone or with the rugrats, and scared sh!tless too in a parking lot at that hour of night. How DARE he scare you like that.

    I am SO GLAD you put your foot down and did the "I am not taking this crap" thing w/customer svc.

    And what's that "I'm talking to your wife, get back in the car" crap? Who does Supermarket Rambo think he is? If that had been my daddy, that man would have been picking asphalt out of the back of his head and trying to stop the nosebleed. AFTER he came to. What nerve!

    Also, if that jerk cannot distinguish the facial features, hairstyle and full clothing of two distinct women wearing "black tops" he is in the wrong line of work. Maybe he should be busted to shelf stocker if they don't want to fire him, so long as he doesn't leer at the customers.

    What kind of gift card? You might have to spend it at the store if it's one of theirs!! Hell, send Dave! He won't get mistaken for a cheese-swiping woman in a black top anyway!! And he can glower at that cretin if they didn't fire him already!

  25. Definitely creepy! Send Dave to buy wine with that $100! And cheese!

  26. Umm, yikes. I understand him trying to do his job but sometimes those security officers act like they are real police officers. They are not. I would've booked it out of there. Thank God your husband was there. I am also curious how many women were wearing a black top that were shopping there when you were. Way to be a jerk buddy. I hope he loses his job over that. A random man with a badge coming up to a woman in a parking lot flashing a "badge" can be terrifying with all of the creeps out there.

  27. omg ellen you are too much. i was laughing my a*ss off at "He may never see me again, but hey, at least he is catching up on email"


Thanks for sharing!

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